Thursday, December 18, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about art lately. Julia is in the midst of a fascinating phase: she's obsessed with drawing, and she's AMAZING at it. (I'm trying to be objective; it still seems she's amazing.) She draws--always with markers, always on white paper--all day long, piles and piles of drawings. Her pictures are vividly colorful and incredibly detailed: the people are not merely stick figures but full fashioned children and adults with intricately patterned clothes, shoes with laces, hairstyles decorated with ponytail elastics and barrettes. She draws things like "a girl at the doctor getting a check-up," and the scene includes a ceiling light fixture, jars of throat depressors, and syringes for shots. She draws "me at my birthday party," and draws a bird's eye view, adds presents with bows, party hats, a table set with plates and cake and silverware oriented in the proper direction to the viewer's perspective. I'm in awe every day.

And yet, it leads to conflict at times, because she's so zealous about it. She doesn't want to stop, ever. She tries things over and over and over, and gets frustrated that after twenty attempts, she "can't get Mary's arms right to look like she's holding a baby!" Sometimes it leads to meltdowns. Julia's not big on taking a break to come back to it later, nor keen on the idea that sometimes art can be imperfect. She has an image in her mind of how she wants her drawing to look, and woe is her (and everyone around her) if it does not.

I've also been thinking about my own art, because after almost three years of frequent writing and at least a year of serious contemplation, I'm finally beginning to work on a book of essays about motherhood. I have a lot of existing material that I'd like to organize in some sort of coherent way (i.e. book form), but it's overwhelming. I am struggling with it, and yet it's important to me and I am determined to make headway, to make some art out of my daily life. I think about what Julia and I have in common about our art--how we struggle over how to produce it; how we're passionate about it, compelled; how you have to be energetic, determined, and brave to make something from scratch.

Then yesterday I discovered this amazing video (below) via Andrea over at Superhero Journal. I love it! I can't stop replaying it! As I see it, it's about following your own creative path, believing in yourself, and knowing that your voice--your art, whatever it may be--is important in the world. What a wonderful message, for children and adults alike. I'm going to show this to Julia. She won't understand the whole meaning now, but I hope she enjoys the enchanting visuals and the message of joy, perseverance, and the artfulness of life itself.

If you think about it, we're all artists, in some way. We all have something to offer the world. It may be a book or a drawing or a painting, or it may be a cake or a rhyme or a philosophy of life. It may be the way you dress in the morning, or the way you sing to your kids in the car. Maybe it's the cookies you baked for your neighbor or the way you read a story to a child. All of our art is important. And it doesn't have to be perfect.

(Now click above and watch the video. It's short, sweet, and very, very charming. Seriously, I'd be so thrilled if you'd come back here and tell me if you liked it as much as I do.)


Mnmom said...

Such an ENORMOUS message in such a sweet little song and video. It was just exactly what I needed to hear right now.

Shan said...

Yeah, that's how I felt when I saw it, too. Glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

Frivolous comment: Are you sure that this isn't a love song to a guy named Art?

Serious comment: Julia's artiness is astounding, all right. I'm daily amazed by the pictures she's drawing and by her method. She is immensely good at getting a vision down on paper - even if she's frustrated by the process of actually getting Mary's goddamn arms right. For my part, I am going to scan some of her recent pictures and put up a slideshow. Since two-thirds of them are nativity scenes, it'll be my little way of contributing to the holiday.